Euoplocephalus

The Euplocephalus was a genus of ankylosaurid dinosaurs that inhabited our planet during the Cretaceous Period, approximately 145 to 65 million years ago.

This genus had a robust armor with spikes as well as an incredible tail with which to strike their enemies, so it is inevitable to describe it as a real living bunker.

Despite its robustness, it was a herbivorous and very calm dinosaur, although when it was under threat of attack it adopted a really aggressive behavior that scared even the Allosaurus itself.

Do you want to know more? Here you will find a wide and detailed information about the Euplocephalus. Find out everything about this herbivorous dinosaur from the Cretaceous!

Taxonomy of the Euplocephalus

  • This specimen belonged to the kingdom of Animalia.
  • We found it classified within the Chordata phylum.
  • The class where it was encompassed is Sauropsida.
  • Obviously its superorder is Dinosauria.
  • He belonged to the order Ornithischia.
  • We found it classified in the suborder Thyreophora.
  • He’s been lumped in with the sub-order Ankylosauria.
  • It was classified within the family Ankylosauridae.
  • The genus we are referring to is Euoplocephalus.

At this point it is necessary to mention that at present this genus is represented by only one species, E. tutus, being this the type species on the basis of which all the scientific description has been made.

However, this does not mean that there are no other species, since the discovery of new fossil remains could mean the discovery of a new species.

For this reason, from this platform we will do our best to keep this information updated in the event of any future changes in the taxonomy of this animal.

The discovery of this dinosaur

As it always happens after the discovery of a new genus of dinosaurs, it is inevitable to give it a scientific name, in this case we talk about the name Euoplocephalus.

In this case the name derives from the Greek word στερεός (Stereo) , which means “solid”, and κεφαλή (falus) , which is understood as “head”.

For this reason this dinosaur was also called Stereophalus, although this name would eventually be changed to Euoplocephalus, which can be translated as “well-armoured head”.

One of the first discoveries of this battleship was made by the Canadian paleontologist Lawrence Morris Lambe in 1987, in the place known as Dinosaur Provincial Park.

The park is located in a valley near the Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada. In this first finding, a skull and what appeared to be a series of five shields were found.

In 1902, it was Lawrence Morris Lambe himself, who described this find, giving it the name of Stereocephalus, however, this name had already been given to a South American beetle by the Argentine naturalist Enrique Lynch Arribalzaga in 1884.

As we previously warned, this forced Morris to change this name to Euoplocephalus in 1910.

Since then a large number of Euoplocephalus fossils have been discovered, not only in Canada but also in the United States.

This great diversity of vestiges has made this dinosaur one of the best known in the world of paleontology. Among its most notorious fossils are teeth, skulls, complete skeletons, armour… Etc.

In 1971, the paleontologist Walter Kubms, as part of his study, determined that all the ankylosaurs found in Alberta belonged to the genus Euoplocephalus.

Since then, Anodontosaurus and Dyoplosaurus were considered synonyms of the genus Euoplocephalus. This classification was accepted by most scientists because of the evident similarities between these dinosaurs.

However, in 2009, after a series of investigations, both Anodontosaurus and Dyoplosaurus were reclassified into a different genus, leaving Euoplocephalus tutus as the only representative of the genus Euoplocephalus.

General characteristics

This dinosaur was one of the strongest as it was about 6 meters long, about 2 meters high and reached weights of up to 2 tons.

It moved around on four short legs but strong enough, due to its build and armor, it was a rather slow animal, and was even considered one of the slowest dinosaurs that ever existed.

Its body was equipped with small bony horns and a bony plate that covered the entire back, neck and tail. This plate is called the osteoderm. This armor served to protect it from predators.

Just as other dinosaurs evolved to have bigger claws, more speed, more strength…etc., this type of ankylosaurid evolved to perfect its armor.

However, it not only perfected this important structure but also improved and specialized its main defense weapon, the tail, which was endowed with a large bone mass, very robust and heavy.

The Euoplocephalus had the ability to move its tail at will as it possessed independent muscles and vertebrae that enabled it to move this structure with good precision.

His head was small and had a triangular shape. The largest skull on record was 41.1 cm long and 47.8 cm wide. This head was protected by thorns and bony plates, and it also had four large horns around its head.

On the other hand, and in line with its head, it had a small brain, so many researchers call it one of the “dumbest” dinosaurs of its era.

Its mouth was beak-shaped and slightly curved, its teeth were small and adapted to eat plants and tubers.

It had tiny eyes, in which small bony plates were also found on its eyelids, which were believed to provide protection for the eyes. It is estimated that they functioned as a kind of armored blinds that covered her eyes.

This dinosaur can really be defined as a war tank, since for example the neck, one of the most vulnerable parts of any animal, was also protected by some bony plates that looked like a necklace.

Stalking the robust Euoplocephalus with its dangerous tail and fierce cover was a challenge for any hungry flesh-eating dinosaur, because robustness was the main defense of herbivorous dinosaurs.

The life of the Euoplocephalus on planet earth

The Euoplocephalus lived in the Cretaceous period, about 145 to 65 million years ago, mainly in the territory we know today as Canada and the United States.

Let us remember that its remains were found in the Canadian province of Alberta and in the American province of Montana. It is believed that its habitat was generally characterized by open spaces and rich in vegetation, since it was essential for its food.

As we have mentioned before, it was a dinosaur that based its diet entirely on vegetables and that with the help of its beak was able to slowly uproot herbaceous vegetation, eat grass, seeds… among other foods of this nature.

In addition, it is believed that with its legs it was capable of digging into the ground in search of roots and tubers that were buried, the latter being its favorite food.

It should be mentioned that his teeth were not at all effective in crushing plants and so on, so his digestive system was designed to facilitate his digestion.

In the age of the dinosaurs, the strongest, if not the best adapted, did not survive and this was well known by the Euoplocephalus, which evolved to cope with any predator that wanted to make it its dinner.

About the behavior of this dinosaur, we can say that in general it was very calm and not very aggressive, it practically concentrated on satisfying its basic needs.

However, when it was attacked, it took a very aggressive and attentive attitude, showing its huge tail in an attempt to persuade predators.

When the predator did not stop and continued to attack, it could be seriously injured by a blow to the tail, which was capable of breaking bones and causing fatal injuries.

On the other hand, the plates on its body were arranged so that the spaces between them worked as a sharp and powerful cutting trap that if it caught a claw it would destroy it on the spot.

This made it a rather difficult dinosaur to hunt and many of the predators gave up on its attack, so many paleontologists assume that it led a quiet and carefree life.

Although, the main character of this article was not completely invulnerable, it is believed that it was easy prey for the Leidyosuchus, since the Euoplocephalus when it approached to drink water, it left its lower part exposed, which did not possess any kind of protective armor.

Today it is believed that this was used by the Leidyosuchus to attack and drag it into the depths of the water where it had no advantage.

On the other hand, it could also have been the victim of attacks by small theropods such as the Troodon, Saurornitholestes, Dromaeosaurus or Richardoestesia, which, helped by its size and agility, caused damage to its lower parts where it was vulnerable.

In any case we can conclude that attacking this dinosaur was very dangerous, so many predators did not even bother unless they were really hungry.

Some curiosities about the Euoplocephalus

This dinosaur appears in part of the program “Palaeolithic World”, in the chapter number 27 titled “Armed Dinosaurs”, you can see the chapter of this video here.
The Euoplocephalus appears in Michael Crichton’s novel “Jurassic Park”, a novel that tells how dinosaurs are created from their DNA with the intention of creating a theme park. This novel would later be made into a movie by prominent director Steven Spielberg

It is one of the dinosaurs of which more fossil remains have been found, of which about 40 skeletons have been found.

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